The industry gave a collective gasp of horror when founder Tim Westergren was pulling down $1,000,000 by selling of Pandora stock while simultaneously fighting artists with royalty loopholes. Chris Castle writes that Spotify's Daniel Ek is leaving Westergren in the financial dust with a monthly windfall of $20 million.
Guest post by Chris Castle from Music Technology Policy
Remember when we were all appalled that Pandora founder Tim Westergren was making $1,000,000 a month from selling Pandora stock while he was behind fighting songwriters in rate court for ASCAP and BMI royalties and stiffing artists with the Internet Radio Fairness Act and refusing to pay pre-72 artists? And then there was the 13 bathroom house in Marin. It was all a bit hard to stomach.
According to Jem Aswad in Variety, Daniel Ek is putting Westergren in the rear view mirror for sheer excess. Based on SEC filings made available to a Swedish publication (probably SEC Form 4):
….Ek sold 336,213 shares $61.7 million worth of stock between July and September, and late last month signaled his intent to sell another $69.9 million sold in July–September for a total of $61.7 million.
“Daniel will sell a small share of Spotify shares in the next nine months as part of his long-term financial strategy. This sale of shares will constitute a minimal part of his holding in the company,” Spotify rep Sofie Grant told the [Swedish] paper. Ek and Lorentzon declined comment.
Of course, it remains to be seen how Spotify does with the several individual infringement lawsuits in Nashville and the Wixen Music Publishing lawsuit in Los Angeles. (Spotify recently lost a motion to dismiss against Bluewater Music represented by attorney Richard Busch, see Order Denying Motion To Dismiss For Lack Of Standing And Failure To State A Claim, Sept. 29, 2018, Bluewater Music Services Corporation, Inc. v. Spotify USA Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-01051 (D.C. W.D. Tenn.) (2017), which also happens to be a great lesson in copyright law by the judge.)
So – Mr. Ek could spend his money on building an effective licensing operation, but….nah….Sounds like Mr. Ek is a man in need of yet another safe harbor, right?